Monday, May 11, 2020

Books, and Jigsaw Puzzles

For a long, long time, I took great pride in the fact that I had always finished any book that I started... even those I didn't like.  But then... perhaps ten years ago... I took a look at my "To be read" list, and realized that there were far more titles out there than I could ever hope to read. 

Taking the approach that 'Life is Short, and the list of book I want to read is Long', I changed my ways. 

If I find myself reaching for a book and then decide I need to do the dishes, if I choose to watch another rerun of Big Bang Theory instead of reading another chapter, if I find myself quite content to stop reading in mid-chapter... I put that book aside, and move on to the next.

To the authors of these books, I say "It's not you, it's me."  And that's probably true, at least in many cases.  There is no book that makes every reader happy; just because a specific title doesn't appeal to me doesn't mean it's a bad book, it just means that it doesn't appeal to me.

Which brings me to jigsaw puzzles. 

When I was growing up, the entire family often did jigsaw puzzles. We liked them large, we liked them difficult. And it was a great family activity.  But as the years went by, I moved on to other activities. With the recent Stay at Home orders due to the Covid-19 crisis, like many, I'm returning to jigsaw puzzles.  Except that of course they're very difficult to find these days.  Fortunately, deep in the back recesses of the top shelf of the closet, I found two puzzles.  I pulled out the first one --  a wonderful nature scene with a babbling brook and trees.  I had a wonderful time putting together that puzzle, it was very relaxing.  Sometimes I'd sit  there for 10 or 15 minutes at a time; other times I'd pause as I walked by to put together a piece or two, before moving on. And when I finished that puzzle I took it apart, boxed it up, and mailed it to a family member who had also rediscovered the pleasure of a good jigsaw puzzle.

I then turned to the remaining puzzle ...  a reproduction of an Escher drawing.  One of my favorite Escher drawings - Hand with Reflecting Sphere. And of course, like all Escher drawings, it was black, white and various shades of gray. Except that - unlike the previous puzzle - this one would sit untouched for a day or two at a time.  Rather than being lured back every time I walked by, I found myself looking the other way. I found myself doing the dishes, or watching reruns of Big Bang Theory, instead of working on the puzzle.  In the meantime, my sister had sent me a puzzle that she had recently completed; I kept opening the drawer where I'd put that puzzle until I finished the Escher, looking longingly at that colorful nighttime cityscape.

And I realized some basic facts.  I had considered gluing the Escher when I finished it, even though I never glue puzzles together... just so that no one else would have to put this puzzle together.  I decided that I would never send this puzzle to someone I liked, because that was just too mean.  In fact, the Escher was so unpleasant to work on that I wouldn't even give it to someone I didn't like.

In other words, the Escher puzzle was like a book that didn't appeal.

So I took apart the small portion of the Escher that I'd put together, and set the box aside.  I opened the new puzzle that was waiting.  And once again, I found the joys of putting together a puzzle.  Once again, I paused to put together two pieces that caught my eye as I walked by.

Life is short, time is limited.  Make sure you use it well. And if you're drinking tea, make it a good cup of tea. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Wear a Red S

Red letter s icon - Free red letter icons

We've experienced a time when there were government orders in place throughout most of the country, mandating social distancing.. or at least strongly recommending social distancing.  But apparently this was too difficult for some people to understand... and we found ourselves with mandates of social distancing, along with the wearing of face masks when out in public.  And since people STILL couldn't understand this -- or at least they chose not to comply -- we ended up with Stay at Home orders.

So then we ended up with people protesting the Stay at Home orders, denouncing the wearing of face masks, and flagrantly flouting the social distancing rules. 

Yeah, I get it, you don't like rules that infringe on what you see as your rights.

But I don't like it when you take action that might harm me.

There's a serious tug-of-war going on . 
On the one hand, there's  your desire to go where you want, do what you want, and as for face masks... some of you  are saying "I don't know.  I don't see it for myself." 
But on the other hand, I want to be protected against being near someone who is a carrier of Covid 19.
And based on the statistics, it looks like the more tests are done, the more we are discovering people who have mild - or no - symptoms, but are most definitely contagious with Covid 19.

Fortunately, I've come up with a solution.. a really good solution, I think.

I'm going to continue staying home most of the time, wearing my mask when I'm in public, and practicing social distancing. 
You can go out and about, skip the mask, and ignore the 6' rule. 

You must wear a large scarlet S.

Why, you ask.  Well, it's simple.  You're getting what you want, and all the restrictions you're protesting will be lifted.  In order for me to get what I want --  I need to know who you are, so that I can avoid you. 
So you need to wear the S. A large S. A red S. 

This way I can easily identify people  who are spending lots of time in close proximity to non-household members.  I can identify those who don't understand that 'flattening the curve' is important - not because it reduces the number of cases of  Corona virus  (hint - it does NOT reduce the total numbers over time), but because it spreads out the numbers of people who will become seriously sick, over a longer period of time.  So instead of everyone being sick all at once, creating a situation that the hospitals and medical system can't accommodate, the same number of people are sick -- but spread out over a long period of time. This way I can identify people who can't see beyond their noses, who aren't willing to consider how to make this country great again, because they're too busy trying to figure out what works best for them.

As soon as you tell me you're willing to wear the S, I'm willing to agree it's okay for the rules and restrictions you're protesting against, to no longer apply to you.

And now, it's time for a cup of tea.  No, the tea won't protect me from Covid 19, or the flu, or even the stupidity of others.  It just makes me feel better.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Devil, or Hero?

Covid-19.  Yes, it's overwhelming.

For the past month, most of the country has been under some sort of stay at home Order. Nobody liked the idea, but by the end of March over 30 states had issued some sort of stay at home Order.  Another 10 states issued a stay at home Order in the first week of April, and the rest (except for South Dakota) have issued similar restrictions, without explicitly calling it a stay at home order.

It should be noted that many states issued Recommendations, prior to issuing their stay at home Orders....  and if people had taken the recommendations seriously, and complied with the recommendations, arguably the Orders would not have been necessary.

But people didn't. They continued to flock to beaches, to parks, to campgrounds.  They refused to wear face masks.  They refused to engage in social distancing.  And frankly, if someone isn't willing to do something as simple as wear a non-medical face mask, or stay 6 feet away from me....  I don't trust them to Wash Their Hands for 20 seconds, or bother to carry and use hand sanitizer.

So, since so many people acted like misbehaving children who insisted on testing the limits, on reaching their toe out to that line, or even blatantly stepping across it, we found ourselves in a nation of Stay at Home Orders.

Although some states took some restrictive actions as early as the second week in March, the earliest Order was issued by California on March 19th...  less than 6 weeks ago. Over 40 states issued their Order 5 weeks ago or less.  Doesn't seem like that's a very long period of time;  I go 5 weeks between hair cuts, and I know a lot of people who go much longer.  But apparently 5 or 6 weeks is an intolerable length of time for some. 

So now we've got major pressure by many groups, to lift the restrictions. 'After all', some of them argue, 'it's turned out to be not as bad as we expected.'  And the people making that argument can't seem to comprehend that perhaps it's BECAUSE of the restrictions, that the death toll is not as bad as we feared.

But I'm straying from the point I want to make.
In response to -- well, a number of factors -- several politicians have made the news in the past week, because they are lifting the restrictions.  Not gradually, not phased in, but in a willy-nilly fashion.  We've  gone from "We recommend social distancing" to "Stay at Home (because you wouldn't follow the recommendation)" to "Let's all get tattoos and new haircuts".

Las Vegas Mayor Goodman offered up her city as a control group.  No, I'm not paraphrasing, look up her interview with Anderson Cooper.  She talked about control groups and placebos and argued that there have been viruses in Vegas for years, and concluded that the city of Las Vegas could be a contol group.

Governor Kemp of Georgia said "I think our citizens are ready for this.  People know what social distancing is."  This is notwithstanding the fact that Georgia has one of the highest tallies of confirmed cases in the region, even while the percentage of people being tested is one of the lowest in the country.  Apparently, many Georgia citizens DO understand what social distancing is, and there are a large number of small businesses --  beauty salons, restaurants, theaters -- which are allowed to open, but have chosen not to.

So that brings me to Devil or Hero. 

IF the Las Vegas control group, or the lifting of restrictions in Georgia results in a large increase of Covid-19 cases, and Covid-19 deaths...  people will view Goodman, and Kemp, and others like them, as Devils.
IF the Vegas control group, or the unrestricted citizens of Georgia do not show a large increase in cases and deaths, I'm quite certain there will be some ... perhaps many..  who will point to Goodman and Kemp and shower them with words such as 'brave', and 'courageous' and 'leaders'.  And even Hero.

But, you see, in my opinion, to take risks with other people's lives, does not make you a Hero. It makes you a Devil. 

I understand, they call them calculated risks.  They don't see them as unnecessary and unreasonable risks.  But when you listen to experts.. true experts... and you look at the data... I don't see how these risks could be considered necessary or reasonable. It's one thing to risk oneself, and another thing to risk others. 

And for those who think I'm overreacting, let me share an interesting little tidbit with you.
Notwithstanding the fact that the Governor of Georgia has decided it's safe to get a haircut, or a massage or tattoo, or attend the theater, as long as precautions are taken ... that same Governor continues to keep the Governor's mansion closed to tours.  Earlier this week, phone calls to the tour office were met with the response that .. No, tours could NOT be scheduled... after all, there was a pandemic going on.  At this point, phone calls are met with a recording, directing people to check out the virtual tour of the mansion online, as all public tours of the mansion have been cancelled until further notice.

No question in my mind. Regardless of the outcome, Goodman and Kemp should never be called Heroes.